July 22, 2021

Why the URL Is a Crucial Part of an on-Page SEO Strategy

If there's one component you should definitely look into for SEO optimization of a web page, it is the URL. People often overlook this string of words and symbols because they do not seem to affect what is on a page. However, that couldn't be further than the truth! A web page's URL is crucial because it contains valuable information, much like a street address. What are these parts of a URL? How can you improve on your URL? Read on and find out.

What is a URL?

The Uniform Resource Locator (URL) serves as the virtual location of a web document. The URL is what you usually type on the address bar or click on to get to a specific webpage. Here is an example of a URL: https://www.ranked.ai/article-category/service.

A URL has several parts, each one representing a unique piece of information. Here is a closer look at these parts. We have underlined and highlighted the portion of the sample URL that corresponds to the part being discussed.

Scheme

https://www.ranked.ai/article-category/service

URLs always start with a scheme, and it tells your browser the kind of address to which it needs to connect. Usually, a scheme is in either HTTP or HTTPS. Sometimes, the address bar of your browser will not display the scheme of the URL. You may even notice you don't add a scheme when you type in an address. However, it is still present as an invisible component; URLs will always have a scheme.

Domain Name

https://www.ranked.ai/article-category/service

The domain name is the core of a URL, the constant element in different pages of the same website. The other pages will always carry the domain name. The period separates the domain name into two: the top-level domain, which is on the right of the period, and the second-level domain, third-level domain, and so on, which are on the left of the period. 

Familiar top-level domains are .com, .com, .edu, .gov, or .org. These function to classify the domain by type (e.g. educational, commercial, or government) or by geography (e.g. .uk, .ca, .au). By knowing the kinds and labels of domains, you can easily identify the nature or the purpose of the webpage. For example, if the domain name has co.uk, then it means the website belongs to a company in the UK.

File Path

https://www.ranked.ai/article-category/service

Adding a file path or a path to your URL further specifies a page of a given website. Indicating a file path will automatically take you to that specific page. You will land on the homepage by default if you do not add a file path. When this happens, you can just look for the specific page you want to visit through the homepage interface.

URL Parameters

https://domain.com/articles/archive?sort=newest-first

URL parameters are extra portions of a URL. These usually appear as combinations of words and symbols. The question mark (?), equal sign (=), ampersand (&), percent sign (%), and numbers are part of URL parameters. 

Through these parameters, you can sort and filter the content on a website. URL parameters can help you classify pages of a gallery, act as UTMs for tracking campaigns, and indicate search results on a website's internal engine, among others.

Anchor

https://domain.com/articles/archive#february

An anchor, which is found after a path, commands the browser to go to a specific part of a page. They are typed in as a hashtag and act as a bookmark, directly making a specific part of a long webpage appear on the browser. Take note that anchors display various parts of a single page and does not choose among different pages.

Optimizing Your URL

Now that you are familiar with the components of a URL, it's time to identify ways to optimize it in general. Optimizing your URL involves keeping it as straightforward as possible. Here are some ways you could do that.

Make Your URL Short and Concise 

When you access SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), the URL will appear together with other lines of text. Therefore, make sure your URLs are easy to spot and to read. Shorter and more concise URLs are more encouraging for users to click. On the other hand, when they see a long URL with multiple components and numerous symbols, it might look dubious or confusing and might even scare people from clicking on the links. Avoid these "dynamic" URLs as much as possible.

Ensure that Your URL Appears Trustworthy

Try to use top-level domains or TLDs that seem more reliable or trustworthy—older ones like .edu and .com are examples. For more appealing URLs, always ensure that people can find in the URL the keywords you are targeting. It means you should be able to identify the main categories on your website. 

Reevaluate these categories and determine if they relate to your business or service or count as a common search. You can also compare words your competitors use on their pages. Knowing this will also help you determine what to avoid.

Include Your Target Keywords in the URL

Ensure SEO-friendly URLs by striving to include one to two target keywords. Keep your site structure up to two folders down as well; anything beyond that might make the URL intimidating or confusing. Additionally, search engines crawl the URLs to identify the most important pages, so ensure that only the necessary words are on the URL. Simple and striking keywords make URLs more effective.

Conclusion

Do not overlook the URL when optimizing a page. Knowing its various parts and their respective functions will help you identify ways to improve your URLs. Always remember to keep URLs short and straightforward, use keywords with high ranks in searches, and ensure that your pages appear trustworthy. With these in mind, you are a step closer to having an improved website.

Ranked helps you optimize your website, engage your audience, and build a digital presence meant to last. We are an SEO platform and service with over 2,500 clients in more than 40 countries. Book a call with the team to learn more, or start your free trial today!

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